Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Daddy's Song" from Head dir Bob Rafelson (1968)

I think the best part of this sequence is how the flashes are jump cuts, but only slightly. If this film had been made in the digital/post MTV age (and that's a big if), they probably would have matched on action far more precisely, but instead the effect is extra disorienting as bodies jolt horizontally back and forth. In a way though, Head anticipates digital; along with 2001 (released the same year), its the dawn of narrative film as postproduction fantasia. "Narrative" is, of course, highly subjective as Head shares many traits with the art film (it's essentially a long, at times nightmarish acid sequence- not unlike another, less succesful Nicholson-associated outing from the year before- The Trip), but Head is among the first of a breed of films whose plotlines wouldn't be possible without post-production. It's a shame then that Bob Rafelson, after making such a bold experiment, would return to shooting only in traditional form.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Koyaanisqatsi (originally directed by Godfrey Reggio) sped up 1552% by Wyatt Hodgson (1982/2012)

Balance Out of Life from Wyatt Hodgson on Vimeo.

"The year 1552 marks the publication of "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies," an account of the mistreatment of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas"- Wyatt Hodgson

"In the postmodern worldview, narrative has lost its sacred power. The semiotic significance of this lose is profound, for by rejecting traditional narratives of the West, the postmodern myth has rejected the centering structures that have long given meaning to human history."

"...With its disconcertingly narrativeless flow and violent juxtapositions of discontinuous images, the film presents a postmodern parody of traditional film documentaries to show us just how senseless and disharmonious the modern world has become. Paradoxically enough, it's a postmodern denunciation of the culture of postmodernism.

"Ultimately the sheer spectacle overwhelms the moral. Social criticism becomes postmodern art.And that's the Semiotic secret concealed by the overt moral message of Koyaanisqati: that the technological resources of the television age have souped up our apprehension of reality. We don't really care whether things make sense as long as they look interesting. Electrically powered and technology-wise, postmodern consciousness is entertained by what it sees. If the modern world's a wasteland, it's a very entertaining wasteland."

- Jack Solomon, "Our Decentered Culture: The Postmodern Worldview"

"In a sense, Koyaanisqatsi is the world's best student film--a two-and-a-half million dollar one--with the familiar and easy juxtaposition of undefiled Nature against the moral evils of the Big City. This dichotomy has a distinguished U.S. pedigree, through transcendentalists and populists, and here it's propped up by the Hopi Indian philosophy encapsulated in the title word (roughly "life out of balance). That said, Koyaanisqatsi is astonishingly involving, a visceral experience of image and music without recourse to narration or actors, featuring one of Philip Glass' finest works, composed in tandem with the images over several years. The riveting photography--which must be seen in a theater--is as seemingly repetitive and distanced as the Glass score. No matter what qualms one might entertain over its "philosophy," Koyaanisqatsi forces one to experience America in a completely new way. How many films can claim as much?"--Scott Simmon, UC Davis

"As an English reviewer remarked of Koyaanisqatsi–a film that, incidentally, owed most of its exposure to Francis Ford Coppola’s distribution–”Its vainglorious appeal as a ‘new cinematic experience’ is really to an audience that would rather be open-mouthed than open-minded.” I found its glib borrowings from the avant-garde so irritating that I had no sense of regret about missing its sequel."- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Rosenbaum also said that the film essentially rehashed ideas from The Man With a Movie Camera, but in a sense Koyaanisqatsi is far from a sequel, it's an opposite. MWAMC is the ultimate celebration of becoming-cyborg, man finally gaining the dignity of the machine in the development of an Marxist/Fordist work ethic that equalizes both man and his mechanical neural extensions (shades of McLuhan here), while Koyaanisqati depicts technology as alienating ourselves from nature, and hence one's essentialism. Despite these diametrically opposed vantages, both films can be said to have a sequel in Jennifer Baichwal's brilliant Manufactured Landscapes (based on the photography of Edward Burtynsky), wherein both man and nature have been conquered and colonized by the artifical. A reciprocal wasteland.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hi Tech Soul dir Gary Bredow (2006)

"The general attitude here with the powers-that-be is that industry must die to make way for technology. The climate has definitely affected us, and I think that we probably wouldn’t have developed this sound in any other city in America."-Juan Atkins